The Reason This Amsterdam Starbucks Location Is So Unique

Many caffeine lovers would probably argue that Starbucks is the biggest name in coffee. Whether you're into hot drinks or Frappuccinos, there's a good chance you've given Starbucks a visit.

The chain is famous for its array of quirks, from secret menu items to subtle employee ranking via apron colors. But, admittedly, when you stand in line for your morning Nitro Cold Brew, these might be the last thing on your mind. The international coffee giant has over 32,000 stores across 83 countries, says Business Insider, some of which are more memorable than others. That airport Starbucks stand might not have carved out a lasting place in your memory, but some Starbucks locations (which highlight the geographic and cultural idiosyncrasies of their surrounding areas) are hard to forget — like this unique one in Amsterdam. Starbucks opened the concept store in March 2012 inside a 430 square-meter subterranean bank building, per architecture news outlet Contemporist. Here's why.

Introducing: The Bank

The store (aptly called "The Bank") was planned around the Historical Amsterdamsche Bank, per Inhabitat, and was the largest Starbucks location in Europe at the time of its construction. The store, it says, was intended as a living stage for viewing the barista process in action. Starbucks outfitted The Bank with a "Slow" Coffee Theater designed for deliberately paced experiences like coffee tasting and enjoying treats from the on-site bakery.

The Bank, says Contemporist, features locally-inspired interior design elements like antique Delft tiles, wooden gingerbread molds, bicycle innertubes, the original 1920s marble bank floor, and a mural depicting the role of the Dutch in the 17th-century global coffee trade. Over 35 artists collaborated to design the Leed-certified sustainable space, led by Starbucks Concept Designer Liz Muller (who was also born in Amsterdam). Muller says the design was inspired by "the place The Netherlands holds today as a design and creative capital" via Inhabitat. "My vision was to bring the space to life by celebrating local history and tradition while looking to the future by giving it a sense of theater and discovery." According to the Starbucks website, The Bank is open every day from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. (9 p.m. on weekends) for coffee fans craving a crafted espresso beverage and a taste of Amsterdam's historical culture.

The Bank paved the way for other concept stores

The Bank was the first location Starbucks referred to as a "laboratory" – if the experimental design proved successful, the coffee giant reported plans to establish more concept locations across Europe. Apparently, it worked out: Starbucks has since opened several other concept stores worldwide.

In December 2018, Starbucks opened the Starbucks Reserve Roastery in Chelsea, New York. Guests can schedule tours of the facility just blocks from Chelsea Market and the Whitney Museum. Visitors can peer through a three-dimensional floor-to-ceiling glass window behind a massive copper degassing cask and custom Probat roaster. The copper-plated interior boasts a solid walnut Roastery bar, the Arriviamo bar featuring espresso-inspired cocktails, and an on-site Princi bakery.

In August 2019, Starbucks opened a similar location in Tianjin, China, inside a historic 1921 building with original Renaissance-style architecture. The building, located in Riverside 66, was also formerly a bank and served as a cultural landmark for the city before being officially designated as a city heritage site in 1997. In October 2019, Starbucks opened a Grand Turk location with a menu showcasing coffee from Latin American and Asian-Pacific regions and a hand-painted mural inspired by the Caribbean Sea. Coffee fans will have to wait and see what concept design Starbucks unveils next.